Thursday, April 21, 2005

First official words

In his address to the College of Cardinals yesterday, Pope Benedict outlined his goals for his pontificate.

"The Church today must revive within herself an awareness of the task to present the world again with the voice of the One Who said: 'I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.' In undertaking his ministry, the new Pope knows that his task is to bring the light of Christ to shine before the men and women of today: not his own light but that of Christ.

"With this awareness, I address myself to everyone, even to those who follow other religions or who are simply seeking an answer to the fundamental questions of life and have not yet found it. I address everyone with simplicity and affection, to assure them that the Church wants to continue to build an open and sincere dialogue with them, in a search for the true good of mankind and of society.

"From God I invoke unity and peace for the human family and declare the willingness of all Catholics to cooperate for true social development, one that respects the dignity of all human beings.

"I will make every effort and dedicate myself to pursuing the promising dialogue that my predecessors began with various civilizations, because it is mutual understanding that gives rise to conditions for a better future for everyone.

"I am particularly thinking of young people. To them, the privileged interlocutors of John Paul II, I send an affectionate embrace in the hope, God willing, of meeting them at Cologne on the occasion of the next World Youth Day. With you, dear young people, I will continue to maintain a dialogue, listening to your expectations in an attempt to help you meet ever more profoundly the living, ever young, Christ.

This is exciting stuff! Yes, all of of it is a continuation of what has come before, but that itself is exciting. As he acknowledges, the Pope's task is to "bring the light of Christ to shine before the men and women of today: not his own light but that of Christ."

Thus far, he has been far from his "Rottweiler"image. The message is one of unity and hope, dialogue and entusiasm. I hope that it is accepted as such.

I am particularly happy to hear that he will continue the World Youth Day tradition that his predecessor started. That his first World Youth Day will be in Germany is especially fortuitous. We can only pray that he will be able to spark a Christian awakening in Germany and Europe.

Since I am not reading blogs today, I am not sure what others have said about this address. Maybe it is better that way.